Oregon’s Equal Pay Act Prohibits Questions About Salary
On May 22, 2017, the House unanimously re-passed House Bill 2005. The legislation, which is more commonly known as the Equal Pay Act of 2017, was amended by the Senate last week, and is now headed to Governor Brown for her signature.
While the majority of the media attention has been on the provisions in the bill that will prohibit discrimination against women in the payment of wages, there are other provisions affecting employment practices that employers should be aware of.
Under the new legislation, it will be a prohibited practice for an employer to screen a job applicant based on the applicant’s current or past compensation. Other than for internal hires, it will also be a prohibited practice to determine compensation for a position based on current or past compensation of a prospective employee. Additionally, a prospective employer may not seek an applicant’s salary history information from the applicant or from the applicant’s current or former employer, unless the prospective employer has made an offer of employment, with an amount of compensation included, to the prospective employee.
If an employer were to screen a job applicant, determine compensation, or seek out salary information in violation of the Act, they could face a lawsuit to recover up to two years of back pay, court costs, attorney fees, and other damages.
If Governor Brown signs the bill into law, as she is expected to do, the screening and compensation provisions will become effective January 1, 2019. The prohibition on seeking information on an applicant’s salary history will become effective 91 days after the Legislature adjourns.